On a recent journey across Birmingham, I stopped by the most stripped back, earthen, cottage-like café I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. And also the most honest. A lot of places claim to have an 'honest' ethos and 'organic' approach to trading, but Kitchen Garden Café lives, breathes, and is the most forthright with the 'organic' way of doing business. The café is next to the Kitchen Garden Shop, which only sells organic produce, and as a result the café sells the most incredible organic chocolate brownies, and a range of gluten and wheat-free bites.
All of the food is cooked on site, and is made how you like it. As stated on the menu 'our salads can be gluten-free on request – just ask your server). Food starts from £3.95 (home-made soup), and goes no higher than 8.95 (brunch, 6oz beef burger).
All of their tea is organic and fair trade, and starts at £1.45. My peppermint mug of tea was fine, it wasn't loose-leaf, but they don't advertise it, so I can't complain. I helped myself to a little bit too much brown sugar, but it's self-serve, so I didn't see the point in being stingy. The mocha is the most expensive coffee on the menu, at £2.05 and they are generous with their portion sizes.
They've kept the prices low because it keeps customers happy, and they don't see the point in charging the earth for something you're going to consume – no matter how local, organic, or high grade the ingredients. Organic produce is sewn into the fabric of the café, and they seem to have grown into an artisan haunt, even though they don't actively advertise it as somewhere only the individuals hang. In fact, Kitchen Garden Café seems more at home with the OAP's, parents with children, and the odd creative like myself who seeks out the cosy café's to reside in.
The (two members) staff are very chilled out and up front about what they sell and 'do'. When I mused over the menu, the waitress behind the bar quipped 'too much choice isn't there?', which broke the ice between customer and staff, which I loved. The café hosts a number of events on a weekly basis for local bands, reading groups, and discussion evenings.
I honestly felt like I could talk to any one of the staff about anything at all, and they'd give me an honest answer, or at the very least advise me well. Funnily enough, the staff didn't even seem aware they were providing exceptional customer service, it was just natural; Kitchen Garden Café, have their service down to a t(ea).
I wasn't bothered at my table, and the staff were happy to let me sit and type. I popped up to the till for another cup of tea, but instead of having to pay, the staff filled my mug up for free.
Speaking of sitting and typing, the free wifi is high speed, and I had no trouble connecting via both laptop and smart phone. I sat downstairs, even though my curiosity peaked at the sight of the half-hidden staircase which led to the upstairs floor space, as did the length of the café. It stretches quite far back, past the wall covered in posters of up-coming events, and seats another twenty people.
The tables are in clusters of two, three, four, and five, and they don't mind if you push two tables together if you're in a large group (which is what happened when a group of six mothers and nine children entered).
They're open til late on Thursday and Saturday, for all of the events, so you've got time to catch them after work. See their website for event details and opening times.
With more than a handful of antique mirrors on the café's bare brick walls, wooden tables, slate flooring, and patio doors which open out on to the pretty garden, I felt at home. It couldn't be more natural and chilled out. The coupling of home-cooking and fresh herbs reminds me of my Auntie's house, with an other-worldly quality, which I can't put my finger on. Nonetheless, Kitchen Garden Cafe is effortlessly cool, cosy, and creative, without even trying.